Category Archives: theatre

Re-membering Vinnette Justine Carroll…

My research focuses on the “insertion” work of black women in literature, particularly theatre. Carroll is a “first” that probably a lot of people do not know about, not just theatre but Broadway.

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Today on her birthday, I re-member Vinnette Justine Carroll who was the “first” black woman to direct a play on Broadway, with her 1972 production of the musical Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope. In addition, until 2016, Carroll was the only black woman to have received a Tony Award nomination for direction. That is 44 years, four decades, that passed before Tony consideration was given for a black woman director on Broadway. And just to do the math, when Carroll made history directing this musical, Broadway had been producing theatre for approximately 115 years.

Carroll was also an actor and playwright. She is known for the reinvention of song-play, the expression of identity through gospel music in the African-American theatre experience. Not surprising, Carroll was into creating and directing new works that positively and artistically presented people of color in theater and art. Her primary interest was giving voice to African Americans and other minority communities that have been culturally and artistically silenced.

Happy birthday to Tony Award nominated director, Vinnette Justine Carroll! Add her name to your name of black women being properly “inserted” and recognized for her artistic contributions in theatre.

 

remembering Lorraine Hansberry

May 19, 1930 – January 12, 1965

“I want to fly! I want to touch the sun!”

“Finish your eggs first.”

from the timeless American classic Broadway play, “A Raisin in the Sun”

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some days I feel like, lorraine hansberry

 

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Artists can be inspired by the simple things. The sudden swarm of birds on branches to a nostalgic smell of perfume or cologne. When I abandon concerns of the world, I am able to be inspired by almost anything because my senses are without judgement and I can apply optimism to everything! Perhaps this was the process Lorraine Hansberry encountered when she created the timeless theatrical masterpiece, A Raisin in the Sun.

She was inspired by the poem entitled, Harlem, by Langston Hughes. This was one of the first poems I memorized and one of the first I made my nephews memorize! This poem inspired her to write the play that put her in the history books. With her play, Raisin in the Sun, she became the first African American woman to write a play performed on Broadway and the youngest and fifth woman to receive the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play. The success of this play led to it being translated in 35 different languages and inspired the talented Nina Simone to write her song, To Be Young, Gifted and Black. After Hansberry’s death, her husband was inspired to adapt a remaining collection of her work into a play with the same name of Simone’s song.

Art is a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy… The origin of art derives from the antiquity of documenting life or scribing so it is not surprising that this string of inspirations are connected. Some days I feel like Lorraine Hansberry when I pick up a pen and begin to write after hearing a song or note on from a saxophone or analogy from a poem. I get inspired by people and situations around me and of course I hope I will leave inspiration to others.

An Analytical Critique

Please enjoy the analytical critique from a student playwright on my play, Hope’s Return.

Hope’s Return is very relevant to the society we live in today. This play discusses several “back seated” issues faced by a different generation today such as: mental disease, funding higher education, realities of war and our government, depression and even suicide that threatens our younger generation. Although fictional characters were used to create this play, the topics heavily relate to the reality of society in the 21st century.

The characters face harsh realities but eventually trail by the end. Hope, the lead character, is similar to many people in my generation. They try to survive in the work force by different means. Many times we are not prepared mentally for the harshness of how inside management works. This is particularly true for women who find themselves lost in male dominated fields. Vergie represents many mother figures who hope the best for their children. However, being pre occupied with tending to other’s needs can leave your own home in shambles. Sometimes your ears are so deaf and eyes so blind you cannot sense the disarray. El is an excellent example of a true provider and backbone for his family during economically hard times. He may not have been the most tender when it came to Lewis’, his son, poor behavior, but particularly gentle yet stern as his role of father and husband. Lastly, Lewis can fit the description of most young adults who’ve lost their way. Most are always ambitious but not able to get a foot planted in the ground to be successful without their parent’s aid. It seems as if Lewis is always judged by his family based on his past failures instead of his current attempts of success.

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Continue reading An Analytical Critique

here she is…

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My play, Hope’s Return, comes to life this week. A dream come true, sincerely   😆

Saturday is “Meet The Playwright” and it can’t get here soon enough! I am officially a professional playwright. Dreams don’t expire!

Carnations Will Do

My first time on stage, I performed during a black history program at my elementary school. My mother gave me a bouquet of pink carnations at the end of the show.

For years, I would make excuses of “when I” or “I need to do _____ before I go” and I never pushed forward with attending the National Black Theatre Festival, the largest theatre festival in the country for African Americans. I knew I could be in attendance as a playwright, poet or actor… I felt I could, but I never believed in myself enough.

When I feel I am in a creative rut, I go back to my roots of theatre. From the stiff chairs, to the fluorescent tape on the stage, to the curtains or the hanging lights… I come alive in a theatre setting! This is where my love for the arts started. I go check out a theatre production and my wheels are turning with ideas! (yes, even if it’s a bad play. I imagine how I would’ve written or casted differently)

I didn’t know what I was going to write. I just knew I needed to get lost in my art and escape reality for awhile. I sat down and outlined, “Hope’s Return“. Three months later, I had a full length play that I began submitting to contests and festivals. And what do you say? My lil ‘ole play got accepted into the theatre festival I have been wanting to attend since I was in college!

A play about a female soldier returning home to her southern roots after her first tour in Iraq. Her family wants her back in the church, she wants to pursue her dreams as a teacher but flashbacks from the war are calling her back across seas. Her family has always trusted “giving it to God” to fix things, but will it be enough to deal with her bouts of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

So in the midst of promoting my debut novel, I am relaxing on a four day excursion with my first love, theatre. And yes, I still like carnations 🙂

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Just As I Thought

I hear stories. Feel the emotions. And if I’m lucky enough, or chosen. I’m selected to be the writer from the ethos to tell the story.

Sometimes they come as poems, prose, short stories, plays or novels.

I received an email yesterday that the play I had been working on late last year and early this year, will finally get its day on the stage next month.

“Hope’s Return” will make her debut at a major theatre festival. BEYOND THRILLED!

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so keep writing. submit with confidence. and then let it go…

Happy Birthday Lorraine Hansberry!

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First African American woman to produce a play on Broadway, “A Raisin in the Sun” (1959). This classic piece is still being produced some 55 years later. Wow… her name equals the meaning of true art! Creating something that will outlive you…